So last week we ran two polls about the M&A potential in 2011, the first one picking likely buyers, and the second one picking likely targets. Readers of this site tend to be very knowledgeable on this subject, as they are often sitting in the front row if not on stage when they happen. So who won the somewhat dubious honor of leading each list?
For 'Most Likely to Buy', Zayo took clear first. I expected that and largely agree, Zayo averages four or five deals each year, albeit smaller ones. Some have suggested that the departure of John Scarano indicates they might slow down, but I sort of doubt it and even then 'slower' might mean just 2. Windstream (NYSE:WIN, news, filings) and TW Telecom (NASDAQ:TWTC, news, filings) were next in line, and both also make sense. Honestly though, I'd disagree slightly and put them behind PAETEC (news, filings) and Earthlink (NASDAQ:ELNK, news, filings), which may have more strategically urgent agendas. Apparently nobody thinks Verizon and AT&T are going to start buying again, and former serial acquirer Cogent is considered even less likely at the moment.
As for 'Most Likely to Be Bought', perennial champion XO Holdings (news, filings) took the title easily once again, despite the fact that the posited deal never materializes and the various lawsuits mucking things up appear to have years of billable time left in them for those lawyers to collect. glbc was a clear second, and since they regularly discuss why such a deal would be good they are definitely willing if someone can find a buyer with enough cash lying around. But most interesting is Zayo's third place showing, apparently the industry thinks they are likely both to be bought *and* sold this year. I disagree with this choice, they might go public but I don't think Caruso is anywhere near ready to sell yet.
Actually, I'd put Integra Telecom above all three as the likeliest target. Why? Multiple potential buyers have the motive and means, and need only the opportunity. One thing though... I can't quite figure the votes for AT&T and Verizon as a likely buyout candidate... Who is going to buy one of them, Google? Hehe.
As for which polling software I will use in the future, I have not yet decided. Opinions are welcome. (yes carlk, I know yours!)